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Identifying hearing prosthesis actuator resonance peak(s)

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Identifying hearing prosthesis actuator resonance peak(s)


An auditory prosthesis comprising an actuator for providing mechanical stimulation to a recipient. The auditory prosthesis comprises a measurement circuit for use in determining the resonance peak(s) of the actuator. In an embodiment, the measurement circuit measures the voltage drop across the actuator and/or current through the actuator during a frequency sweep of the operational frequencies of the actuator. These measured voltages and/or currents are then analyzed for discontinuities that are indicative of a resonance peak of the actuator. In another embodiment, rather than using a frequency sweep to measure voltages and/or currents across the actuator, the measurement circuit instead applies a voltage impulse to the actuator and then measure the voltage and/or current across the actuator for a period of time after application of the impulse. The measured voltages and/or currents are then analyzed to identify resonance peak(s) of the actuator.
Related Terms: Auditory Prosthesis

Inventors: Koen Van den Heuvel, Werner Meskens
USPTO Applicaton #: #20120286765 - Class: 324 7649 (USPTO) - 11/15/12 - Class 324 


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The Patent Description & Claims data below is from USPTO Patent Application 20120286765, Identifying hearing prosthesis actuator resonance peak(s).

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BACKGROUND

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates generally to hearing prostheses, and more particularly, to hearing prostheses configured to apply mechanical stimulation.

2. Related Art

Hearing loss, which may be due to many different causes, is generally of two types, conductive and sensorineural. Sensorineural hearing loss is due to the absence or destruction of the hair cells in the cochlea that transduce sound signals into nerve impulses. Various prosthetic hearing implants have been developed to provide individuals who suffer from sensorineural hearing loss with the ability to perceive sound. One such prosthetic hearing implant is referred to as a cochlear implant. Cochlear implants use an electrode array implanted in the cochlea of a recipient to bypass the mechanisms of the ear. More specifically, an electrical stimulus is provided via the electrode array directly to the auditory nerve, thereby causing a hearing sensation.

Conductive hearing loss occurs when the normal mechanical pathways that provide sound to hair cells in the cochlea are impeded, for example, by damage to the ossicular chain or ear canal. However, individuals suffering from conductive hearing loss may retain some form of residual hearing because the hair cells in the cochlea may remain undamaged.

Still other individuals suffer from mixed hearing losses, that is, conductive hearing loss in conjunction with sensorineural hearing. Such individuals may have damage to the outer or middle ear, as well as to the inner ear (cochlea).

Individuals suffering from conductive hearing loss are typically not candidates for a cochlear implant due to the irreversible nature of the cochlear implant. Specifically, insertion of the electrode assembly into a recipient\'s cochlea exposes the recipient to potential destruction of the majority of hair cells within the cochlea. Typically, destruction of the cochlea hair cells results in the loss of residual hearing in the portion of the cochlea in which the electrode assembly is implanted.

Rather, individuals suffering from conductive hearing loss typically receive an acoustic hearing aid, referred to as a hearing aid herein. Hearing aids rely on principles of air conduction to transmit acoustic signals to the cochlea. In particular, a hearing aid typically uses an arrangement positioned in the recipient\'s ear canal or on the outer ear to amplify a sound received by the outer ear of the recipient. This amplified sound reaches the cochlea causing motion of the perilymph and stimulation of the auditory nerve.

Unfortunately, not all individuals who suffer from conductive hearing loss are able to derive suitable benefit from hearing aids. For example, some individuals are prone to chronic inflammation or infection of the ear canal thereby eliminating hearing aids as a potential solution. Other individuals have malformed or absent outer ear and/or ear canals resulting from a birth defect, or as a result of medical conditions such as Treacher Collins syndrome or Microtia. Furthermore, hearing aids are typically unsuitable for individuals who suffer from single-sided deafness (total hearing loss only in one ear). Hearing aids commonly referred to as “cross aids” have been developed for single sided deaf individuals. These devices receive the sound from the deaf side with one hearing aid and present this signal (either via a direct electrical connection or wirelessly) to a hearing aid which is worn on the opposite side. Unfortunately, this requires the recipient to wear two hearing aids. Additionally, in order to prevent acoustic feedback problems, hearing aids generally require that the ear canal be plugged, resulting in unnecessary pressure, discomfort, or other problems such as eczema.

As noted above, hearing aids rely primarily on the principles of air conduction. However, other types of devices commonly referred to as bone conducting hearing aids or bone conduction devices, function by converting a received sound into a mechanical force. This force is transferred through the bones of the skull to the cochlea and causes motion of the cochlea fluid. Hair cells inside the cochlea are responsive to this motion of the cochlea fluid and generate nerve impulses which result in the perception of the received sound. Bone conduction devices have been found suitable to treat a variety of types of hearing loss and may be suitable for individuals who cannot derive sufficient benefit from acoustic hearing aids, cochlear implants, etc, or for individuals who suffer from stuttering problems.

Another type of hearing prosthesis that converts received sound into a mechanical force in treating hearing loss is a direct acoustic cochlear stimulator (DACS) (also sometimes referred to as a “direct mechanical stimulator” or “inner ear mechanical stimulation device”). A DACS comprises an actuator that generates vibrations that are coupled to the inner ear of a recipient and thus bypasses the outer and middle ear.

One other type of hearing prosthesis that converts sound into a mechanical force in treating hearing loss is a middle ear mechanical stimulation device (also sometimes referred to as a “direct drive middle ear hearing device” or “implantable middle ear hearing device”). Such, stimulation devices comprise an actuator that generates vibrations that are coupled to the middle ear of a recipient (e.g., to a bone of the ossicles).

SUMMARY

In one aspect of the present invention, there is provided a method for identifying one or more resonance peaks of an actuator of an auditory prosthesis configured to apply mechanical stimulation to a recipient, the method comprising: providing a signal to the actuator to cause actuation of the actuator; measuring at least one of a voltage across the actuator and a current through the actuator; and analyzing the measured values to identify at least one resonance peak of the actuator.

In another aspect of the present invention, there is provided an auditory prosthesis comprising: an actuator configured to apply mechanical stimulation to a recipient to cause a hearing percept by the recipient; a signal generator configured to provide a signal to the actuator to cause actuation of the actuator; a measurement circuit configured to measure at least one of a voltage across the actuator and a current through the actuator; a control circuit configured analyze the measured values to identify at least one resonance peak of the actuator.

In yet another aspect, there is provided an auditory prosthesis comprising: means for applying mechanical stimulation to a recipient to cause a hearing percept by the recipient; means for providing a signal to the means for applying mechanical stimulation; means for measuring at least one of a voltage across the means for applying mechanical stimulation and a current through the means for applying mechanical stimulation; and means for analyzing the measured values to identify at least one resonance peak of the means for applying mechanical stimulation.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

Embodiments of the present invention are described below with reference to the attached drawings, in which:

FIG. 1 is perspective view of an individual\'s head in which an auditory prosthesis in accordance with embodiments of the present invention may be implemented;

FIG. 2A is a perspective view of an exemplary DACS, in accordance with embodiments of the present invention;

FIG. 2B is a perspective view of another type of DACS, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;

FIG. 3 illustrates a frequency response of an exemplary actuator;

FIG. 4 is a simplified block diagram of an internal component of an exemplary auditory prosthesis including a measurement circuit, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention.

FIG. 5 provides a flow chart of an exemplary method for determining the resonance peak(s) of an actuator, in accordance with an embodiment of the present invention;



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stats Patent Info
Application #
US 20120286765 A1
Publish Date
11/15/2012
Document #
13106335
File Date
05/12/2011
USPTO Class
324 7649
Other USPTO Classes
600 25
International Class
/
Drawings
20


Auditory Prosthesis


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